Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Matter of Truth, the Matter of Matter: Which Matters More? Part XIII

Because I do not want this line of thought to die, I am going to stammer out another few comments about the “thought of the outside.”

If Deleuze was sincere in his positive comments about stammering, he’d have to be delighted with me – stammering is about all that I can do.

I am in a peculiar situation.

I place a very heavy theoretical weight upon this “thought of the outside.” I think it has enormous practical, ethical, and psychological consequences. I think that the “thought of the outside”, if it can be understood in some utterly material and pragmatic way, will help us find a way out of our shared maladies of narcissism, imperialism, and hegemonic policies, ( which, by the way, I see as intimately inter-related and re-enforcing.)

But – even though I place this heavy emphasis on it, it is entirely vague. I even worry that it is sheer nonsense, and that rather than providing some way out of narcissism and the rest, it is really just another pernicious symptom of " narcissism and the rest" continuing on in my own thinking.

What of this “thought of the outside”?

What if that’s just a crude spatial metaphor that acts as a kind of placeholder concept?

What if it is the resurgence, within the oeuvre of Deleuze-Guattari-Foucault, of the mystical, of the transcendental, at their most virulent, fly-bottle-baiting worst? The return of wishful and fanciful thinking, of fantasy posing as theory, of romanticism posing as realism of the highest and hardest order?

This is a terrible fear of mine – that at that point where I am most convinced that I am reaching out, most convinced that I am touching reality, I am in fact most self-entwined and self-infatuated, most mirror and navel gazing.

Then, the “thought of the outside” is the deepest and sickest manifestation of introspection. My maps aren’t maps at all – they are metaphors—metaphors serving as projection screens for the cinema of my interiority.

Leave that aside for a moment.

I want to connect the “thought of the outside” with this thought: the idea that theory is practice. As Foucault said, “theory does not express, translate, or serve to apply practice: it is practice.” If I can get away with this connection, then I can go forth and not worry that theory is a practice of totalization, being instead assured that theory is a practice of multiplying potentialities.

Lenin thought so. But so what?

Can I get away with that connection?

It matters to me that associated with William James’s philosophical differentiation culminating in his version of pragmatism was a political differentiation from a xenophobic, self-righteous, and class-based exclusionary politics unfolding and changing into his passionate and engaged involvement with the New England Anti-Imperialist League.

William James ended up thinking that theory was practice.

William James ended up with an idea of an America and a democratic political practice which wasn’t totalizing or imperialistic.

It didn’t, alas, pick up much in America.

That idea skipped like a stone, across the Atlantic, and then a good many miles inland, to Paris, where it was picked up again, by another generation, of Frenchmen.

But so what? Can any of us get away with these connections? Are they useful? Or useful only as a mirror for self-admiring cowards?


Post a Comment

<< Home